Lupus in Tabula
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A night in the cursed village: scared farmers are becoming werewolves' dinner one by one, therefore they are trying to defend themselves the best they can, by lynching all the suspects. Can you persuade them that you're innocent... while devouring them all? A great party game classic, in a fresh new powerful version, that includes new rules and new characters: Medium, Werehamster, Freemasons, Possessed and others.
This is another addictive game from daVinci games publisher (see Bang! also).
Again the theme is great, again the game is fast and funny!
Again you are playing in a team, but you are not really sure which other players are by your side!
The interacion between players are really a big point of this game. You must hide you role if you are a Wolf, and you must be carefully to reveal something that you know (if you are a medium for instance).
It's so really funny and so fast that you can play several times in less than one hour!
Moreover it's so cheap!
If you find in a big group (more than 7) even in a pub, even if people do not like to play 'serious' games, this will be a success for sure!
Some years back whilst my wife and I were sitting having dinner the door was suddenly flung open to reveal two figures, both brandishing stenguns, who without more ado proceeded to shoot us stone dead.
Not really, of course, otherwise you'd not be reading this. They were two of our son's friends and were taking part in the then highly popular game of 'Killer'. Because Gavin was playing, and knowing what a games playing household ours was, they couldn't believe that we would allow ourselves to be left out, so we were marked down for elimination (the aim of the game). But, unfortunately for them, they were wrong. We weren't playing. So their glee at seeing us face down in our shepherds pie quickly turned to despair when they realised they had killed two innocent bystanders and, as per the rules, were themselves both out of the game.
'Killer' has now retired to its place in folk memory but others have from time to time replaced it in popular gaming culture. If you are up to date on these things (and I admit that I wasn't until Lupus in Tabula dropped through my letter box) you'll know there is currently a game called 'Werewolf'. Whilst, unlike 'Killer', this doesn't range all round the neighbourhood, it is one that can easily be played by a large assembly of gamers.
However, there are those amongst us who, assuming the price is right, much prefer to buy a specially designed pack in order to play a game even though it could just as easily be played with standard playing cards. Should you be among that number read on.
Lupus in Tabula comprises a deck of 26 good quality nicely illustrated playing cards, and comes with rules in Italian, English and German (fromage dure Frenchies). It is described as being for 9-23 players but 9 should, I feel, be regarded as being the absolute minimum, and would suggest 11 or 12 would result in a better game.
The number of cards used each game equals the number of players minus one. That 'one' is the 'Moderator' who is a sort of referee and, unfortunately, has to be excluded from the actual play. Of the rest, one player will be the 'Seer', two (or three with 16+ players) will be 'Werewolves', and the rest will be 'Humans'. Cards representing these characters will be extracted from the full pack, shuffled, and dealt around by the Moderator. He glances at each card as he hands them out and notes which players are the Werewolves. Once all have secretly examined their cards and learned their characters the cards are no longer used and may not in any circumstances be revealed.
In the scenario, the players are inhabitants of the village of Tabula and the game is played in alternating phases of 'Night' and 'Day', starting with 'Night'. (I envisage groups turning the lights off and playing this section by candlelight - or even moonlight should the moon be obliging.)
All players are told to shut their eyes and bang the table or whatever - the banging being to disguise any noise that might give the game away. The Moderator calls for the Seer to open his eyes. The Seer possesses a sort of second sight that enables him to detect werewolves. The Moderator asks him to indicate a player whose soul he'd like to peer into to attempt to sniff out the odour of lycanthrophy. The Seer responds with a glance or a pointing finger and the Moderator gives him either the thumbs-up or thumbs-down. He is then told to close his eyes again.
It is then the turn of the Werewolves to "Open their eyes and agree on whom they wish to kill". This means that they recognise for the first time who are the Werewolves and silently agree which of the other players will be on that night's menu - always hoping to pick their mortal enemy, the Seer. The Moderator mentally notes the victim and the Werewolves go back to sleep.
The night is then over. The Moderator informs the unfortunate victim that he or she is, in fact, dead and is no longer in the game. Apart from feeling aggrieved these victims, as they are gradually eliminated, must under no circumstances reveal any information about themselves, of course. Impaling would be too good for any who attempted to do so.
The players, who all now look human (hopefully!), are understandably somewhat perturbed to learn that they have Werewolves in their midst and discuss amongst themselves which of their number is a most likely candidate and would be better off being lynched. Following discussion each player in turn announces a nomination and the two most highly nominated are allowed a final appeal. Following a vote the party will agree on somebody who is for the big drop and that player, too, goes out of the game.
Then out go the lights and it is 'Night' again. Shudder, shudder.
This Night/Day sequence goes on until either the Werewolves have all been successfully lynched (and the Human team has won), or the Humans have been reduced to a number equalling the remaining Werewolves (resulting in victory for the Werewolves). The Moderator knows when this stage has been reached.
Now, if you've been paying attention you might spot what appears to be a weakness in the rules. Let us assume that the Seer does his stuff and correctly spots a Werewolf. He could, of course, attempt to say so in highly persuasive terms. He could even say "I am a Seer and I know that Bubbles is really a Werewolf". But by so doing he would instantly reveal his identity to the Werewolves so would most certainly be promoted to the top of the menu for supper on the following night. What is more, would the party really believe him? What if he was really a Werewolf pretending to be the Seer and thereby direct the Humans to lynch one of their own. Furthermore, maybe the Seer is already dead because the Moderator will, each night, still go through that phase of the game whether or not the Seer is still alive. All clever stuff of bluff and counter bluff.
There are a few minor rules I haven't mentioned and also some lovely additional characters (with special 'qualities', of course) that can be introduced if there are sufficient players, the requisite number being shown in brackets. These are the Medium (9), the Possessed (10), the Bodyguard (11), two Freemasons - they come as a package (13), and the Werehamster (15).
I have always liked interactive games where players attempt by persuasive argument to convince/deceive others into taking (or not taking) certain actions. Lupus in Tabula is clearly in this category and me - I can't wait until I can assemble a party of fifteen so that we can include the Werehamster.